Note: Timestream Multimedia of Appleton donated Knox County maps to local area search teams and the Camden Police Department in the early morning hours of July 6th. Later that same day...
July 6, 2004
Story and photos by David Munson
APPLETON (July 6, 04): It was a long 48 hours for Camden resident Aubrey Young, but he and his dog Simon were found alive and in good condition on Tuesday morning after spending three days and two nights on a remote stretch of dirt road in the woods near the Appleton-Hope town line.
Ann Billiat keeps Young as comfortable as possible in the back of a Maine game warden's pickup truck. Billiat and Appleton volunteer firefighter Tay Vaughan were among the first on the scene.
Lt. Randy Gagne of the Camden Police Department and Maine Game Warden Mark Merrifield found Young after responding to a tip provided by Peasetown Road resident Leon Jones.
"Mark saw him lying by the side of the road and we were worried," said Gagne. "But when I saw his legs move and heard him swearing at the black flies, I knew he was OK."
Jones remembered seeing a car matching the description of Young's vehicle after spotting a printout of a VillageSoup story posted at Village Variety in Camden while picking up his morning coffee. He reported the sighting to the Camden Police Department, which quickly contacted the Maine Warden Service and was on the scene 20 minutes later.
"I saw the car come through on Sunday, but I never thought twice about it," Jones said. "There is a piece of land for sale up here, and I figured they were looking at that and came out on the other end."
Peasetown Road resident Leon Jones, right, assists emergency workers as they hoist Young onto a gurney.
Whatever his intentions were, Young never made it to the other end of the unmaintained dirt road. After he made his way past downed trees and slippery slopes and even forded a stream, Young's vehicle eventually became hung up on some large rocks. Spinning his tires further and further into the soft ground, Young attempted to free his car until he eventually ran out of gas.
Appleton selectman and volunteer firefighter Tay Vaughan met with first responder Ann Billiat at the end of Peasetown Road soon after the emergency tone went out, and quickly arrived on scene in Vaughan's four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Stuart Young, Simon and Tay Vaughan at the rescue site.
It is unclear when Young left his vehicle and how he ended up lying by the side of the road, but Gagne said he was alert and in good condition.
"He's pretty tough," Gagne said. "He was wet and cold, but he was still cracking jokes. He laughed and said the dog was driving."
The dog, a miniature dachshund named Simon, stayed close to his master until help arrived, barking at Gagne and Merrifield as they approached Young, who reportedly had tried to cover his head with his jacket to ward off the black flies and mosquitoes.
Young's son Craig and dog Simon look on as Young is placed in the ambulance. When asked how it felt to have his father back, Craig replied: 'Like Christmas.'
"Simon was there to protect his father. For the last two days he was Dad's watchdog," said son Stuart Young as he held Simon in his arms. "You see shows about Lassie and those faithful dogs, but this dog really is man's best friend."
Stuart and Craig Young were both on hand for their father's rescue, and extended their thanks to all who helped in the search.
"We want to thank everyone who offered their help," said Stuart Young. "We had calls from Appleton, Hope, Lincolnville, Rockport, Rockland, Union, people from all over. It really makes your heart go wild when you get that kind of support. We really appreciate the help. We have a million thanks for Randy and the Camden Police Department and everyone else."
Gagne credits his officers and other emergency personnel, as well as the many community members who offered their time and assistance, with the success of the search and rescue.
Young's front tire was torn to shreds as he tried to free his car from the mud and rocks.
"My crew stayed dedicated to the search the whole time," said Gagne. "Sgt. Laite and all the patrol officers stayed focused and made the search their first priority. I just can't stress enough how everyone in the community came together to help out in this situation. The cooperation from everyone was just incredible -- I couldn't tell you how many calls we have had."
After receiving some basic first aid in the ambulance, Young was taken to Penobscot Bay Medical Center.
As the ambulance rocked and swayed on the slow climb out of the valley, Stuart Young choked back the emotion he felt over his father's safe return and the overwhelming response of the community.
With Lt. Randy Gagne and rescuer Ann Billat at his side, Gagne rendezvoused with the ambulance after a ride in the game warden's truck.
"When Randy yelled out on the cell phone that they had found him? And that he was OK?" Stuart Young said, searching for words. "I just feel so grateful right now."
The box on the map of Hope shows the approximate area where Aubrey Young was found. Click here for larger view. (Maps courtesy of Timestream Media)